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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Charles Edward Stelfox
  • Born 19 April 1845 Belfast
  • Died Q1, 1907, Birmingham
  • Educated Royal Belfast Academical Institution
  • Debut11 September 1867 I Zingari Phoenix CC Dublin
  • Cap Number 100
  • Style Right-hand bat, right- arm fast round arm
  • Teams NICC

Charles Stelfox was the first great Ulster batsman. Known as a ferocious hitter of the ball, he was a player of moods. Often playing under the alias C Charles, he sometimes appeared casual, which exasperated his many supporters, but dashing and debonair, his brilliant stroke play excited crowds at NICC for more than a decade.

A champion athlete, he was also a fast bowler, his shooters being much feared. Whether they were a testimony to his skill or the state of Belfast wickets has not been related. Lillywhites Cricketers Companion 1866 described him thus: "Very fast, and at times a destructive bowler, capital field and hard hitter, but too casual to excel". Like others of similar temperament, he saved his best performances for the big occasion. For XXII of NICC against All England in 1867, when North were chasing an unlikely 102 to win, he made 28 out of 38 with a "lost ball" six as NICC 102-13 won by 7 wickets.

Other batting feats included brilliant hundreds against West of Scotland, and guesting for the wandering Dickensian Club, against his own teammates. His career best was 151 against Phoenix in 1874 when he and CP Coote put on 191 for the 6th wicket. His bowling figures are equally impressive. For example in 1870, he routed Glasgow Caledonian with 6-42, then, in the final match of the season reduced Armagh's batsmen to panic with 7-6. He routed Phoenix in 1871, taking 8-18 as the self styled Premier Club fell for 43. Only for Ireland did he disappoint.

It was rare indeed for Northerners to find a place in the national side at that time, but his talents could not be denied. In 1867, with his brother James, he was selected against I Zingari. Alas he failed, as did almost all the Irish batting, going down by an innings. The agent of his, and almost all his colleagues' destruction, was WM Rose, a slow lob bowler, who took 16-73 in the match. At least Stelfox, dismissed for 8 and 7, had the consolation of getting Rose to a caught and bowled, when I Zingari batted. He also appeared against the same opponents in a 12-a-side game at Phoenix in 1873. I Zingari had no "demon" bowler, and Charles hit a typical 46* in the second innings.

He disappeared from NICC teams after 1878, by which time his place as the Club's leading bat had passed to the more mundane Willie Vint. At this stage he may well have emigrated to England, where he was to die almost half a century later.